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Porter Dosti, M. J. P. Mills, P.W. Simon, and S. A.Tanumihardjo, Bioavailability of β-carotene (βC) from purple carrots is the same as typical orange carrots while high-βC carrots increase βC stores in Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) Brit. J. Nutrit. 96: 258-267. 2006.
Vitamin A (VA) deficiency is a worldwide public health problem. Biofortifying existing sources of β-carotene (βC) and increasing dietary βC could help combat the issue. Two studies were performed to investigate the relative βC bioavailability of a βC supplement to purple, high-βC orange, and typical orange carrots using Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus). In study 1, which used a traditional bioavailability design, gerbils (n 32) received a diet containing orange, purple, or white carrot powder, or white carrot powder +a βC supplement. In study 2, which included βC-biofortified carrots, gerbils (n 39) received orange, high-βC orange, purple, or white carrot powder in their diet. Both studies lasted 21 d and the gerbils were killed to determine the effect of carrot type or supplement on serum and liver βC, α-carotene, and VA concentrations. Liver stores of βC or VA in the gerbils did not differ between orange and purple carrot diets when equal amounts of βC from each of the diets were consumed (P> 0.05). Both the orange and purple carrot diet resulted in higher liver VA compared with the supplement (P< 0.05). High-βC carrots resulted in more than 2-fold higher βC and 1-1 times greater VA liver stores compared with typical orange carrots (P<0.05). These results suggest that high-βC carrots may be an alternative source of VA to typical carrots in areas of VA deficiency. Second, phenolics including anthocyanins and phenolic acids in purple carrot do not interfere with the bioavailability of βC from purple carrots.